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What is Dry Needling and How Can it Help Me?

By Mandie Martuzzo, PT

Dry needling is a skilled form of therapy in which fine needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (painful knots in muscles), tendons, ligaments or near nerves in order to stimulate a healing response. The needle allows the therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable. Dry needling is a modern, science-based technique that can be used to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions such as neck or low back pain, headaches, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, or plantar fasciitis, to name a few. Dry needling can also be helpful in treating nerve-related issues by improving circulation and disrupting fibrosis in chronic pain syndromes. Dry needling may relieve tension or improve flexibility in muscles. The technique utilizes a thin sterile needle;  nothing is injected or extracted. In many cases there patients experience an immediate increase in flexibility and movement and decreased pain within 24-48 hours.

Is Dry Needling Safe?

Dry needling is very safe, though it is possible that you may become drowsy, tired, or dizzy after treatment. However, this happens in only a small number of patients (1-3%). Mild bruising or bleeding may occur after dry needling (15-20% of the time) and is considered normal.   Temporary pain or soreness can happen during or after a treatment session, but soreness usually fades within 1-2 days, and in some cases even sooner. Only single use, disposable needles are used. This treatment is performed by physical therapists trained and certified in dry needling procedures.

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

Dry needling and acupuncture both involve puncturing the skin with thin needles, but while the goal of both treatments is to alleviate pain, the practices are very different.

Dry needling involves needling into anatomical structures, such as muscles, to relieve tension and trigger points. Acupuncture utilizes needles with the intent of altering energy flow along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases.

What are the benefits of dry needling?

Dry needling is typically part of larger treatment plan by your therapist. It can result in decreased muscle pain and stiffness, increased flexibility, increased circulation and healing response for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, which can be helpful in optimizing sports performance, recovering more quickly from injuries, and preventing conditions from becoming chronic. Dry needling can be used in addition to regular physical therapy practices or as a standalone self-pay treatment for maintenance of the results of previous plan of care.

Learn more about dry needling on our website or call to schedule a consultation.


Medical News Today; Jenna Fletcher 5/13/18

Dry needling institute of American Academy